Prioritize Yourself in Your Time With The Word “No”

Michael Scott, played by Steve Carrell on The Office, saying "No! God! No! Please no! Nooooooooooooo."
Michael Scott knows what we’re talking about!

This one might seem obvious. Of course, canceling or saying “no” to things will bring you more free time. But, if you’re anything like most people, your inclination is to think that if that was possible for your particular schedule, you would already be doing it and, thus, it must not be possible to cancel anything or gain any more time.

The reality is though that, as easy as it is, most of us don’t cancel or say “no” that often. That leads us to overextend our time and undervalue ourselves. 

 With our obligations to ourselves and others, we force ourselves through periods of no time for rest or recovery. There are most likely things you could cancel right now that would bring you more time for things you need — be it time to take care of your health or sort out your tax filing. We know that we need the time so we can continue to show up as our best selves, but we don’t take it. We tell ourselves we’ll get around to that time we need eventually and, for now, exhaustion will have to do. 

But things will continue to be busy and it will be easy to not prioritize your needs… forever.

That’s why it’s important to remind ourselves that we can cancel or say “no.” Once you remember that you can, it’s important that you regularly check to see what time-sucks on your schedule you can cancel. If you’re feeling nervous, you don’t need to cancel these all the time. Try doing it when you’re out of balance, feeling fried, and need some extra time to bring your brain back to where you need it to be.

Some low-stakes, one-off examples if you feel like you never have anything you can cancel might include: 

  • A networking call or meal (it’ll be okay)
  • A trip to see your sister for the weekend (next month probably works just as well for her)
  • Your regular creative accountability group (yes, you joined to make the most of your output but you’re human, you can skip and it doesn’t mean your creativity will be gone forever)
  • A check-in where you have nothing to report or will be stressed the entire meeting because you have so much to do (your boss or co-workers have been there too)
  • That play you bought tickets for to support a friend but have no interest in (you can probably give the tickets to someone else and even if you can’t… you will still thank yourself for not pushing yourself to the limit for a play that you’re too exhausted to appreciate)

To learn more techniques to prioritize yourself in your schedule, complete Time Smart in Pique.

Boost Your Confidence And Achieve Your Goals

GIF of Jake the Dog from Adventuretime spinning in a circle saying "Dude, sucking at something is the first step towards being sort of good at something."
Jake the Dog from Adventuretime offers some sounds advice that just might have boosted his confidence afterwards

What difference does confidence make? Well, it might make a huge difference when it comes to actually achieving your set goals.

Numerous studies have found that you’re far more likely to achieve your goals when you believe you will. Thankfully, you can hack your way to more confidence if you’re not feeling an abundance of it right now. 

While it might seem counter-intuitive, forming advice groups can help you gain confidence. And if “advice groups” sound formal and forced, worry not! We form these groups all the time — we just don’t always call them that. If you’ve ever walked with a co-worker to public transit after work to talk about issues you’re both having or called an old friend about a problem in your personal life only to end up talking through a problem in their life too, you’ve experienced this!

We often feel better on multiple levels after those conversations and leave them with an increased sense of confidence. Science can tell us why.

Katy Milkman worked on a project led by Lauren Eskreis-Winkler along with Angela Duckworth and Dena Gromet where they asked students to type up some advice for their younger peers on studying. Even those few minutes made a difference. The students who had typed up some advice for fellow students performed better in the classes they cared about most compared to the students who didn’t provide advice.

This advice-giving improves confidence because of the “saying-is-believing effect.” Thanks to cognitive dissonance, after you say something to someone else, you’re more likely to believe it yourself. So if you tell someone they should leave a job that makes them unhappy to do something more aligned with their values, you’re more likely to leave a job that makes you unhappy to better align yourself with your own values. 

Advice groups put you in situations to give advice and boost your confidence regularly, and thus make your goals feel more achievable.

Some more casual ways to do this, that don’t involve pre-scheduling a specific “advice group” but would likely include a natural give-and-take of advice or information, are:

  • Calling a good friend once or twice a month
  • Driving a co-worker home and chatting on the way
  • Having one-on-ones with a colleague from another team that you like, either scheduled or just periodically over lunch
  • Creating a bi-weekly creative accountability group where you check in with each other’s individual goals
  • Setting up a call with a former boss that you really liked or mentor-figure

To learn more techniques to make change easier, complete How To Change in Pique!

Humor At Work Can Progress Your Career

GIF of a dog wearing a tie barking at office desk, sitting in rolling desk chair
Humans at work? Oh, you said HUMOR at work!

If the idea of “humor at work” makes you shake your head, you’re not alone. A lot of people feel that professionalism and humor are mutually exclusive. In fact, we’re trained from the first time we enter a work setting that humor is something that derails productivity. And since work is all about productivity productivity productivity, humor ends up being checked at the door.

However… science says humor can be incredibly positive in the workplace. In truth, humor makes life in general — work included — so much better and it makes people – bosses included – trust us more. 

Robert Half International and Hodge-Cronin & Associates found 98% of surveyed executive leaders preferred employees with a sense of humor. 84% believed employees with a sense of humor do better work. There’s a positive peer-to-peer effect too — humor can make our peers more likely to attribute higher status to us and to vote us into leadership roles.

It goes further than that though. As long as it’s regarded as appropriate, humor that people laugh out loud at increases others’ perceptions of our confidence and has no meaningful impact on status or competence.

And it doesn’t even matter if you find yourself funny. Researcher Wayne Decker found that, regardless of whether they themselves felt funny, managers with a sense of humor were rated as 23% more respected, 25% more pleasant, and 17% friendlier.

Leaving aside others’ perceptions of you, there are intrinsic benefits as well. If you’ve worked through some of the activities on humor at work in Pique, you probably already know that humor even improves problem-solving more than traditional brainstorming! 

So, clearly, there’s data to back up the idea that humor, when done well, can be hugely beneficial at work. If you’re nervous or doubtful, here are some more low-stakes ways that you can add levity into work:

  • Add a GIF from a well-known TV show or pop culture reference into an email, event, or slide
  • Tell a humorous story to start a presentation
  • Start your somewhat awkward team meeting by answering silly, quick this-or-that style questions at the beginning (like “Would you rather fight 100 chicken-sized dinosaurs or a really angry archeologist”)
  • Put your favorite comic strip at your desk
  • Host an office trivia session for employee bonding
  • Create a March Madness-style bracket of snacks for people to vote on for the entire month of March and then bring the winner for everyone to enjoy at the end
  • Ask colleagues in passing if they saw a TV show or movie you liked and hear their thoughts

To learn more about humor in the workplace, complete Humor, Seriously in Pique.

Getting Started in Pique

We’re so glad we piqued your interest! 

First off, you might be wondering, who are we? 

The short answer is that we’re a team of behavioral scientists (and behavioral science fans!) who have turned some of our favorite books into activities. We created this app to help you learn and try out research-backed concepts for improving your life.

Since it can be tricky to start something new, we wanted to let you know the best ways to use Pique! Here are some of our favorite tips:

Pique's logo stands pointing to a calendar

Set a time to use Pique! ⏰ When you want to receive the full benefits of a healthy habit, like going to the gym or brushing your teeth, you make time for them. Like “after work” or “as soon as I start moving for the day.” You should also set a time to Pique! If you’ve got five minutes, that’s enough time to Pique. Wondering what times might be good for you? We’ve got some suggestions.

Pique's logo stands on a pile of books about different subjects, reading Da Vinci. The logo is clearly about to jump to test gravity, as it's wearing wings and is above a pile of pillows.

Find books that speak to you! 📚We have books on tons of different subjects and you can even search specific phrases in our Discover tab. Regardless of what book you choose to read do, we’ll keep it interesting by injecting humor throughout. Want a top-level synopsis of some of our best books? Check out overviews of our favorites here!

Pique logo is jumping rope on top of an arrow that goes around in a complete circle.

Repeat the best activities! 🔁 Keep lessons top-of-mind by reminding yourself what you learned with Repeatables! Find activities you’ll want to do again and again in the Discover tab under Repeatables. Want to know more about the science behind Repeatables? We’d love to tell you all about it!

Looking for more Pique tips? 📱You’ll have to turn to the app to find out more! Because as fun as our blog is, the magic is in the app. 

So head on over to the iOS or Google Play App Store to get started!

The Best Times to Pick Up Pique

Want to learn? Then it’s the right time to use Pique!

It’s difficult to know when you’re going to be bitten by the learning bug though. That’s why it’s probably best to plan regular times to use Pique when you know your brain is generally feeling open and curious. So, probably not after the regularly frustrating phone call you have every Tuesday at 2pm.

In general, when we say “set a time to use Pique” we mean figure out what context you want to be in when you use Pique and make a plan to use it at those times.

You might reach for meditation apps when you feel stressed or mobile games when your brain absolutely can not take in any more information at all. The best time to reach for Pique is when you feel open to learning something new. By setting an intention for when you’ll use Pique, you can turn smarter reading, learning, and reflection into a habit! 

Why is it good to plug Pique into your plan? 

When we repeat certain behaviors over and over in regular contexts, like at the same time or in the same place, they start to become automatic. 

You might have done that with some behaviors you’d like to stop, like picking up your phone to check social media as soon as you wake up. This phenomenon isn’t limited to tendencies that the algorithm wants you to make into a habit though. 

You can make helpful behaviors automatic too. We might be biased, but we’re pretty sure that making a habit of using Pique to take your reading one step further is a positive thing. Because of that, we recommend slotting us into your daily or weekly routines for regular learning!

Times successful people read do books in Pique:

  • On your commute
  • With your morning cup of joe
  • Before bed
  • After putting the kids to bed, in the 5 minutes of euphoria you have before your brain shuts down
  • Every Saturday
  • In between Zoom calls
  • On your lunch break
  • After finishing Ozark
  • While waiting for the frying pan to heat up
  • When you would otherwise refresh your email waiting for a response
  • When you find yourself falling prey to the siren song of social media
  • Every time you see a lightbulb flicker
  • At 2:55pm – we’re not sure why, it’s just a great time

That being said, it’s good to be flexible too. 

Science says that the best way to make a habit stick is to be flexible while you’re setting it. We all stumble at the beginning stages of setting habits and if you’re too rigid, you’ll force yourself all the way back to the starting block. 

Planned to turn to Pique before work, but then woke up groggy with no extra time? That’s okay! Take a spin through the app on your lunch break. It’s better to continue at an off-time than not at all. If and when you miss the timeslot you originally planned, you can always turn to Pique at another time. Pique is in your phone whenever you can to return to it!

Regardless of what time you turn to Pique, there are so many great books in the app for you to choose from. If you’ve got 5 minutes in between calls or in a waiting room, that’s enough time to pick up and Pique! 

P.S. Got less time but still want to do something productive? We recommend flipping through your flashcards!

We Recommend A Daily Diet of Pique Activities

One way to incorporate your Pique knowledge into your routine? Repeat your favorite activities!

Why repeat activities in Pique?

The forgetting curve shows us that if you don’t make attempts to retain information by returning to it or applying it to your life, you’re more likely to forget it. Your brain remembers information by making numerous connection points with it. The more connections, the longer you’re likely to remember something.

Simply put, you have to practice what you’ve learned more than once to make it stick.

If you’ve ever done one day of a new writing habit, exercise routine, or eating an appropriate amount of vegetables in a day, you know this. Keeping with a routine is the tricky part. And if you fall off a habit, there are rarely gentle prompts to return besides your desk, stationary bike, or wilted spinach mocking you.

That’s why we created Repeatables. 

After completing an experience, like our Time Smart experience on Tech Habits, you’ll unlock the “repeatable” version of it. After a quick reminder on the topic, the repeatable jumps right into the activity. For our Tech Habits experience, this means immediately scheduling some tech-free time and setting your intention for how you’ll spend it. All the good stuff, right away, whenever you want to repeat it.

With Repeatables, those insights that tickled your brain so much can stay top-of-mind. You’ll apply them to your life again and again, allowing you to continue to establish the research-backed habits of your dreams.

And if you forget?

If your routine falls off, as many of ours do when life gets busy and complicated, we’ll periodically remind you to come back and repeat the exercises that you haven’t done in a while. In fact, even if you continue returning, we’ll remind you. If you have notifications turned on, we’ll send a reminder when it’s time for you to take a spin through the activity again. 

This way, you can continue to apply this science long after you first hear about it in the original experience.

That’s smarter reading and smarter living.

Dolly Chugh Wants You To Be A Good-ish Person

Most of us want to be good people. But, we aren’t always good people — because no one is. And when someone threatens our identity as a good person by calling out the moments where we could improve, it often sends us into Defense Mode. As a result of our instinct to defend that “good person identity,” we often make it harder for ourselves to become better people.

Behavioral scientist Dolly Chugh believes that one way to make sure that doesn’t happen is to give up on being a good person… and instead prioritize being a good-ish person. 

Good-ish people know that they are works-in-progress. So, when they hear they need to do better in an area, it’s easier for them to do so because they already knew they had room to grow.

But how can you give up on good and aim for good-ish?

In her book, The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias, Dolly will help you prioritize good-ish. She’ll teach you how to have uncomfortable conversations and how to examine your own areas for growth. 

By doing the book in Pique, you’ll get to experience the power of less with hands-on activities co-created directly with Dolly Chugh. You’ll get a trial run with each of the tools introduced and see first-hand which would work best in your life. And, after trying them out, there will be a clearer path to keep using them going forward.

What can you expect?

Instead of just reading about being good-ish, in Pique, you’ll examine your own life and areas where you could aim for good-ish. 

One way you’ll do that? You’ll learn about your own bounded awareness.

Essentially, we see what we expect to see. Researcher Jeremy Wolfe and his colleagues created an airport security screening process. When participants were told that a dangerous object would appear 50% of the time, they had a 7% error rate. But, when they were told that the dangerous object would appear 1% of the time, they had a 30% error rate. They didn’t expect to see something, so they didn’t see it, even when it was right there. 

Dolly and Harvard Business School Professor Max Bazerman call this tendency to not see, seek, or use readily available and relevant information “bounded awareness.” We replicate our own bounded awareness in our circles. A PRRI (Public Religion Research Institute) American Values Survey found that most of us — regardless of race or ethnicity — build echo chambers in our closest relationships, but whites in America have the loudest echo chamber. On top of that, research by psychologist Drew Jacoby-Senghor found that we don’t just create demographic echo chambers, we also tend to create bias echo chambers.

With help from Dolly in Pique, you’ll examine your own echo chambers and where you can look to grow.

Ready to focus on growing into good-ish?

Fighting your own bias and committing to your own growth is work. Thankfully, with The Person You Mean To Be by Dolly Chugh, you’ll have a fantastic educator and resource at your side. She’ll walk you through everything you need to know and help you practice when it might be difficult to otherwise start. It and many more great behavioral science books are available in the Pique app right now. 

Head to Pique to get started!

Illustration of Dolly Chugh
Researcher Dolly Chugh